Belfast Telegraph

Goading was in good spirits, says Sebastian

 

By Philip Duncan

Sebastian Vettel played down his war of words with Lewis Hamilton after he snatched victory from his rival at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton goaded the Ferrari driver here on Saturday after declaring he had wiped the smile off Vettel's face by storming to pole position at Melbourne's Albert Park.

But it was Vettel who ended up having the last laugh after a miscalculation by Hamilton's Mercedes team afforded the German victory in the first round of the new Formula One campaign.

Hamilton and Vettel clashed when they banged wheels at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last year, but their rivalry has largely been a cordial one.

"Lewis said he was joking and I believe him," Vettel said in response to Hamilton's jibe after qualifying.

"We are old enough and we don't need to go on that sort of level. Apart from one point last year, we have not had a problem with each other. Even if we are very different people, we share a common passion and that makes us equal again. We love racing and we try to do our best, and in that regard, I do not see why we shouldn't get on with each other."

Vettel appeared to have his work cut out to stop Hamilton from winning the opening race of the year, but a virtual safety car period, coupled with a mathematical mistake by Mercedes, played into his hands.

The 30-year-old spent the first phase of the race behind both Hamilton and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, but remarkably leaves Melbourne with his second win here in as many years.

"We got a bit lucky with the safety car," Vettel added. "Obviously I was praying for a safety car, and there was a car that stopped at Turn 4. I was like 'no, the safety car is not coming out' and then somebody else stopped, and when I saw the virtual safety car I was full of adrenaline.

"They told me it was really close with Lewis, and when we got out ahead of him I knew it was difficult to pass but he kept some pressure on.

"Lewis had a great lap yesterday, and he deserved pole position. He drove a very good race, controlled it in the beginning, and, as I say, we got a bit lucky, but we'll take it."

Belfast Telegraph

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